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Learning To Snowboard - Tips

 
 
rg123
 
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:09 pm
I think most reasonably coordinated people can figure out for themselves things like moving around with only their front foot in its snowboard binding, how to get up from the ground, etc. The worst thing (potentially) about learning to snowboard is the brutal slam-down falls you will take if you don't know how to avoid them. This post is to help you avoid those falls.

The ends (nose and tail) of a snowboard are upturned to prevent them from catching in the snow, but the sides are designed to be dug into the snow. Below, I'll use "front end" to refer to the nose of the board if you're riding normally, or the tail of the board if you're riding with that end forward ("fakie").

If you try to ride with the board flat on the snow, it can easily turn sideways on you, and the leading side edge is likely to catch in the snow, causing your feet to come to an immediate stop and the rest of you to get slammed down HARD. Believe me, you do not want to experience that. So...

Important Tip #1: Never try to ride with the board flat on the snow. Always ride with one side edge or the other dug in.

Digging an edge in will tend to make you turn to that side. To turn and head back the other way on the mountain, you will need to switch to digging in the snowboard's other side edge - But, you can easily get slammed down when you switch edges if you don't understand the following:

When you have a side edge dug in, you may skid some instead of riding right along the edge.

Important Tip #2: Never switch edges when you are skidding.

As long as your momentum is towards the front end of the board and you're not skidding, it's safe to switch edges. But, if you're skidding, that means the board is turned sideways relative to your momentum. You can only skid on the trailing side edge. If you switch edges when skidding, the leading side edge will catch in the snow and brutally slam you down.

OK - so, what do you do if you're skidding and you want to turn back the other way? Here are two options:

Option #1: If you have room on the mountain, you can put more weight forward and dig your current edge in harder to shift your momentum towards the front end of the board and so come out of the skid that way. Then, when you're no longer skidding, you can switch to the other edge without it catching and carve a turn back the other way. That's the more advanced option.

Option #2: Get the front end of the board turned towards the direction of your momentum to stop skidding that way before you switch edges. This is what you're most likely to do when first learning.

There's a technique that will greatly help you execute that second option, and which is generally useful in controlling skids...

Important Tip #3: When you're skidding, you can cause one end or the other of the snowboard to swing forward by reducing the angle under that foot relative to the angle under your other foot.

Reducing that angle will reduce the drag friction affecting that end of the board, causing it to move faster than the other end and so swing forward. You can do this because a snowboard is not completely rigid, but can flex around its lengthwise axis. If you're skidding on your heel-side edge, you can press down more with one toe or the other. If you're skidding on your toe-side edge, you can press down more with one heel or the other. If you don't use this technique and only turn the board by twisting your body, you'll waste a lot of energy and make things a lot harder for yourself than they need to be.

When you're first learning, you will probably tend to skid a lot. Until you get used to it, it can be frightening when you turn the board to point downhill prior to switching edges, and that can make you want to lean backwards and put your weight on your back foot. Resist this tendency. If all your weight's on your back foot, you won't be able to dig in that other side edge and get the board to turn back across the mountain. So...

Important Tip #4: Fear might make leaning backwards seem safer when the board is pointed downhill, but that's actually the worst thing you can do.

Those are the most important tips I think I can give a beginning snowboarder. I'm no expert, and didn't take any lessons, but those tips would have saved me some pain and helped get me up to speed faster.

Finally, here's some advice for getting off the lifts:

When you stand in line for and ride a chair lift, you'll only have your front foot in its binding. At first, this can make it challenging for you to get off and away from the lift without falling. If you do fall, it's no big disaster - You just want to get out of the way of the people coming behind you. But - here's what you need to keep in mind to avoid falling: Just as soon as you can, as soon as you reach the landing and before you stand up out of the lift chair, get your board pointed towards a smooth path down the exit ramp, with your back foot positioned on the board in front of the rear binding. Concentrate, and do this as soon as possible to give yourself as much time as possible. Be careful not to let your back heel or toe hang off the side of the board. Use the lift chair to steady yourself as you stand up and get in balance over the board. You'll have to do all of this quickly, but don't panic and do it faster than you have to. Let the lift chair's forward movement help push you forward away from it. Keep your arms out for balance and your weight forward over your front foot as you glide down the ramp away from the lift. While you won't have much edge control with your back foot out of its binding, you should still be able to put a little more pressure on one edge than the other. Bearing down more on one edge than the other, even if it's just a little bit, will help prevent the board from turning on you unexpectedly.
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Crazielady420
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 09:57 am
I am goofie and this is my second year snowboarding, I am very comfortable going down goofie, but when I attempt regular stance, I just keep falling, any tips on that?
0 Replies
 
rg123
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 11:49 am
What binding angles do you use? If your left foot is angled forward (when you ride goofy), you might try changing it to angle back some. That might help riding with that foot forward feel more natural.

Probably, though, you just need to spend some time back on more gradual slopes really focusing on the basics with that foot forward until you're as comfortable riding that way.
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Mosin Nagant
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Jan, 2005 03:14 pm
Ive been snowboarding for 4 years, and can comfortably land 540's. THe trick for switch riding is to angle your feet so they are duck-footed. something like 14 degrees front -14 degrees back. It makes switch alot easier.
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candidone1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 09:26 am
Mosin_Nagant wrote:
Ive been snowboarding for 4 years, and can comfortably land 540's. THe trick for switch riding is to angle your feet so they are duck-footed. something like 14 degrees front -14 degrees back. It makes switch alot easier.


In the long run, it's better for your knees too.
I always advocate a "standing at the bus-stop" stance. If you wouldn't stand in a certain position for a long time, then why would you screw your bindings in an uncomfortable position and then hope to spend a day locked into it?
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Mosin Nagant
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Feb, 2005 04:01 pm
Its better for your knees, unless their already wrecked Smile My ankles and knees kill everyday, but only when im not boarding, so i guess its ok
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Feb, 2005 04:04 pm
my tip: wear volleyball kneepads, and a pillow on a butt. I'm a good skier, tried snowboarding one day, on an icy slope. it was the last time too. my knees and bum were swallen and purple for days! weeks!
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rg123
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Feb, 2005 06:54 am
Trying to learn on ice would be horrible. Not trying to do that is a good tip in itself.

My first snowboarding trip was with a group of buddies, and we had all skied before to some extent or other. Fortunately, we were not on ice, but - heh - all the other guys switched back to skiing after the first day. I stuck with it, but it was painful (and my neck popped in ways it never had for months afterwards).

My problem that first trip was that I had skateboarded as a kid, and couldn't figure out why treating the snowboard like a skateboard worked pretty well some of the time but got me slammed down the rest of the time.

I was just riding on the flat of the board except when I wanted to turn, and then I'd lean in the direction I wanted to turn. Riding on the flat worked except when I hit bumps that turned the board sideways, causing me to catch an edge. Leaning into a turn worked a lot like skateboarding as long as that didn't involve switching edges while skidding. Every time I took a slam down fall it was like some out of the blue, struck by lightning (yet again) thing. I just had no clue what was going wrong.

That's why the usual advice is for beginners to take a lesson, which I'm not arguing against or anything, but for me, the tips above would have been all I really needed somebody to tell me. The rest would have been practicing to get the feel for it.
0 Replies
 
netfool
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 12:44 pm
I learned by doing the "falling leaf".

For instance, you face up hill on one side of the slope, and work your way to the opposite side, facing up hill the entire time. And you do this until you reach the bottom.

Then, when I comfortable with that, I did it facing downhill.

After awhile, you'll start crossing the slope at steeper angles, maybe adding some actual turns, stopping etc.

I honestly believe, snowboarding is a lot easier to learn than skiing. It just the initial learning curve is much more painful.
0 Replies
 
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 01:01 pm
Tip: Put the snowboard away and take a skiing lesson. Surf waves, not mountains.
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rg123
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2005 03:16 pm
Another tip I should probably add is on stopping quickly, since crashing into something or someone else is even worse than a slam-down fall. Most people probably already have the idea that, to stop quickly, you need to turn the board sideways and dig in the back edge hard to grind a skid to a stop. How to best get the board to quickly turn sideways is not necessarily intuitive, though, so here's what I've found to work best:

Don't try to get the board sideways by jumping up and turning it around it's midpoint. Instead, you want to pivot on the nose of the board and swing the back end around to where it's even with the front.

If you're on your toe-side edge when you need to stop, you'll want to keep that edge angled down and swing the back end around towards your heel side. If you're on your heel-side edge when you need to stop, you'll want to keep that edge angled down and swing the back end around towards your toe side.

More of your weight should already be forward when you're riding. So - crouch down, and then kinda spring up, not enough to bring the whole board off the ground or even necessarily enough to bring the tail of the board off the ground, but enough to unweight the back end of the board. You want to leave pressure down on the front end of the board so the friction there will provide a point to pivot on. Pivoting on a grounded point is a lot easier than trying to turn the board without one. As the back end is unweighted, swing it around until the board is sideways relative to your momentum. The whole time you do this, you want to keep the leading side edge up so you don't catch it in the snow. Come down with your weight on the trailing side edge, digging in hard with both feet to skid to a stop.

Also - one follow-up point on snowboarding turns working a lot like skateboarding if you're not skidding: I really found this to be true, but you definitely have to make sure you have more of your weight forward over your front foot to get the edge to dig in effectively.
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